Caamano Bros High Noon Sarsaparilla

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 10

Caamano Brothers Sarsaparilla

Caamano Brothers Sarsaparilla

Ingredients: Purified Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Organic and Natural Flavorings, Caramel Color, Organic Acacia Gum, Citric Acid.

From their website: Caamaño Bros. Soda Pop Co.

“Our sarsaparilla is made the old-fashioned way, with 100% natural traditional ingredients. Many of these ingredients are now hard to find, and almost everyone else uses artificial replacements. We worked long and hard to find sources for de-safrolized sassafrass, imported Jamaican sarsaparilla root, and our other quality ingredients, so that we could deliver you an old-fashioned honest taste that’s been hard to find anywhere for over 50 years.”

Initial flavors remind me more of a Cola than a Root Beer, with a semi-sour flavor. Maybe too much citric acid?

Late flavors include vanilla and wintergreen, but are fairly subtle.

“Bottled under the authority of: Caamano Bros. Soda Pop Co. by: Seven-Up Bottling Company, Modesto, CA”

Who are these Brothers?

“In a few short months, a sidewalk homemade soda pop stand has grown to include farmer’s market booths, distribution in local restaurants, sales throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and now distribution in many other Western States

“The Caamaño brothers, Sebastián and Alejandro, began this business early in 2010 at the ages of 13 and 12 when they witnessed their parents creating their own mineral water and asked them if they could do the same with soda pop. Their father Christopher, a gourmet chef, enthusiastically embraced the idea and thus Caamaño Bros. Soda Pop Co. was born.”

At 15, I was mowing lawns, delivering newspapers, and selling soft-drinks at Badger Football games to make my comic book money. Wow, and these kids have already launched a small business.

Just awesome, that is one very expensive lemonade stand, Mom and Dad.

I like the attitude, but the unusual Cola-like flavor puts this down to 3 out of 5 Barrels for me.

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 9

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

Maine Root Sarsaparilla

Handcrafted Ingredients: Carbonated Pure Water, Fair Trade Certified organic cane syrup, and spices.

From the Maine Root Website:

“A lighter bodied brother to our super popular Root Beer. The flavor profile has less clove, allowing the taste of wintergreen to be showcased. Soda fans agree, it’s the best they have ever had!”

Lighter in color, even! Definitely with the Wintergreen at the fore.

There are three basic kinds of Root Beer-like beverages.

Root Beer, based, more or less on Charles Hires Formula, primarily flavored with Sassafras Root Bark and Wintergreen.

Birch Beer, which is supposed to feature the flavor of Birch Bark or Birch Sap Extract or something.

Sarsaparilla, which is supposed to feature the flavor of the root of the Jamaican Sarsaparilla (Smilax regelii).

The interesting thing about Sarsaparilla is versions of Sarsaparilla flavored beer pre-date the use of Sassafras. Even more interestingly, Sarsaparilla based beverages are used traditionally in Jamaica as an, uh, enhancing tonic for male potency, currently touted by certain DJs under the name “Baba Roots”.

I’m not sure exactly where the Sarsaparilla comes in, as the Maine Root version tastes mostly like Wint-O-Green life savers.

I like that they left the Caramel Color out, but this is just too cloying and sugary.

2 out of 5 Barrels.

Abita Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 6

Abita Root Beer

Abita Root Beer

INGREDIENTS: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Caramel Coloring, Root Beer Flavoring, Phosphoric Acid.

Located Abita Root Beer at Hard Water, here in San Francisco.

However, “Root Beer Flavoring”?

The Abita website is a bit more forthcoming:

“Abita Root Beer is made with a hot mix process using spring water, herbs, vanilla and yucca (which creates foam). Unlike most soft drink manufacturers, Abita sweetens its root beer with pure Louisiana cane sugar.”

It’s a solid effort, with the flavors well integrated, but lacks the complexity of a true 5 barrel Root Beer.

4 out of 5 Barrels.

PS. I’ve heard a rumor that Abita might be making batch of Bourbon Barrel aged Root Beer special for Hard Water. Uh, yum! Now that is something to look forward to!

The Pop Shoppe Root Beer

Summer 2013 Root Beer Project, Post 5

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The Pop Shoppe Root Beer

INGREDIENTS: Carbonated Water, Cane Sugar, Caramel Color, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Propylene Glycol, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Phosphoric Acid.

Product of Canada.

Aspirin-like flavor, a nasty, thin, sweetness and a bit of chemical-ish burn in the aftertaste. I couldn’t finish it.

But, wait, isn’t Propylene Glycol used in Anti-Freeze?

Oh, those Canadians and their Olde Fashioned Chemicals.

That will teach me not to stop reading at “Cane Sugar”!

Nice bottle, but 1 out of 5 Barrels for taste.

Watermelon Coolers

Mrs Flannestad’s sister is visiting and the two of them challenged me to make a before dinner cocktail. I’d been craving watermelon, so my first thought was watermelon, Tequila, and Mezcal. But I knew Mrs Flannestad wouldn’t be super happy with that. Next I thought Miller’s Gin, with its cucumber, would be an interesting combination with its relative watermelon. Warm day, so a long drink seemed appropriate, and a little spice never hurt anyone.

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Watermelon Cooler

1/2 Cup Watermelon, Peeled and cubed
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup
Small Pinch Cayenne
Small Pinch Salt
1 1/2 oz Miller’s Gin
Juice 1/2 Lime
1/2 oz Seltzer Water
Watermelon spear, for garnish

METHOD: Place watermelon in shaker with Simple Syrup, Cayenne, and Salt. Muddle. Add lime juice and Gin. Shake with ice and fine strain over fresh ice and seltzer in a Collins Glass. Garnish with Watermelon spear and serve with a straw.

Sun Tea

Sun Tea.

Sun Tea.

Lately, I’ve been drinking a lot of bottled tea.

The other week, things were just getting silly, bottles and bottles piling up in the recycling.

I had to remind myself that there is almost nothing in the world easier than making Sun Tea.

Fill jar with water. Add an appropriate amount of dry tea. Place in Sun. Relax in hammock for a while or play some video games. Strain out tea leaves and refrigerate.

As far as amounts of dry tea goes, the general rule for hot tea is 1 teaspoon for cup. For Sun Tea, since it isn’t heated as much, you want to be a bit more generous, maybe 1 1/2 teaspoons per cup. You also want it to be a little stronger than plain tea, as you will be serving it over ice.

For the above two litre container, I found about 2/3 of a cup of tea seemed appropriate.

As far as what type of tea is most appropriate for Ice Tea, Lipton uses mostly Indian type teas for its blend. For a traditional flavor, teas from Sri Lanka (Ceylon) are good. But the sky is really the limit.

As to whether it is appropriate to add lemon juice, sugar, and bourbon to your iced tea, I leave it up to you.

Meyer Lemon Rickey

A friend recently came back with some pictures from Pouring Ribbons in New York. Apparently, the talented bartenders there have been doing interesting things with ice.

In one case, they make puck shaped ice circles which nearly perfectly fit in an old fashioned type rocks glass. They build a portion of the drink, place the cube in the glass, then pour another portion of the drink on top of the cube. As the drink sits, the two parts slowly come together as the ice melts.

Dammit, Joaquin, you are making us look like we are not trying!

The idea of a drink that evolves as you consume it has always appealed to me, whether it was layers or flavors which come out as it warms, or through some other physical process.

At Alembic, where I sometimes work, they have been making ice made from water lightly flavored with cucumber for one of their drinks.

I like tea, so I was wondering about making ice from tea. Could you make a drink evolve by using ice made from strong tea?

I have a comical comment in my notebook, “Long Island Tea Ice,” which cracked me up when I first thought of it.

A few weeks ago, Erik Adkins had asked me about some posts I had written on eGullet in 2007 regarding the Rickey. I had to do some internet autopsy action to even remember what I had written.

The Rickey is a simple drink: Spirit, Lemon (or lime), and Soda. A very literal Highball with Lemon.

From Gary Regan’s writeup of the Rickey:

Whiskey Joe Rickey is Cool, Lemon or Lime

Joe Rickey disavowed the drink, though, saying in an interview published in an Ohio newspaper in 1900, “The ‘rickey’ originated in Washington, and I was in a sense responsible for it. You see, it was like this: I never drank whisky neat – it’s a mighty injurious system – but whisky diluted with a little water won’t hurt anybody. Of course, a carbonated water makes it brighter and more palatable, and for that reason I always took a long drink, usually whisky and water with a lump of ice.

“This is the highball of common commerce, and has been known to thirsty humanity for many generations. To this, however, I added the juice of a lemon in my desire to get a healthful drink, for the lemon acid is highly beneficial and tones up the stomach wonderfully.

“This combination became very popular at Shoomaker’s in Washington, where I did most of my drinking, and gradually the folks began asking for those drinks that Rickey drinks. About this time the use of limes became fairly common, and one afternoon an experimenter tried the effect of lime juice instead of lemon juice in the drink, and from that time on all ‘rickey’ were made from limes.

“I never drink the lime juice combination myself because I think the lemon acid is mellower and more beneficial.”

That may be, but the juice of a whole regular modern lemon makes for a pretty tart drink.

Thinking about that, myself, I thought of Meyer Lemons and their slightly lower acid content. Plus, I’ve always liked the gamey-thyme like flavor of their peel with Rye Whiskey.

Also, what if I upped the complexity of the drink a bit, by using the tea flavored ice?

If you’re using tea flavored ice, you might as well use a strong flavored tea…

Meyer Lemon Rickey

Rye Whiskey Rickey, with Meyer Lemon and Tea Ice

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
Juice 1 Meyer Lemon
1 Lapsang Souchong Tea Ice Cube*
Soda Water

Pour the Rye Whiskey and Lemon over the ice cube in a highball glass (smallish is better, 8 oz is best). Stir briefly. Top with a little soda and stir once.

*Lapsang Souchong Tea is a black tea dried by smoking over a fire. It displays strong campfire notes. Brew a double strong batch of tea (2 tsp per cup) and pour into ice cube molds. Freeze.

At first you don’t really notice the smoke notes of the ice, but by the end, you wonder, “Is this a Scotch Rickey”?

Stay tuned for Long Island Tea Ice…

Problems in Modern Mixology

The Martini poses a problem for the Modern Mixologist.

It is composed of a required three parts: Gin, Dry Vermouth, and Orange Bitters, with a lot variation on execution and garnish.

However, the main thing we struggle with, in these modern times, is how to get the Gin into the drink.

Everyone loves Dry Vermouth, so that’s not a problem, but not a lot of people love Gin.

In varying degrees, they think Gin will:

  • Cause them to behave erratically.
  • Be smelled on their breath by officers of the law.
  • Be perceived by their peers as a sign of aging.
  • Send them straight to hell.

Extreme Modern Mixologists propose that simply infusing your Dry Vermouth with Juniper is sufficient. Juniper plus Dry Vermouth equals a Martini.

Other Modern Mixologists theorize that simply placing the gin in a sunbeam, and having that sunbeam strike the mixing tin is sufficient.

I disagree, I think there must at least be some hint of Gin in the drink.

The Martini issue can be solved with the salaciously named ‘good old in-and-out’. That is, you pour the gin IN over your ice cubes, agitate briefly, pour the Gin OUT, then add the Dry Vermouth and bitters.

This is OK, but I often find the Gin accidentally, and embarrassingly, spilling into my mouth. Never Good, with the potential for unintended drunkenness.

I propose another solution:

Misto

Load your favorite Misting device with Gin, Navy Strength for extra credit, and in a semi-vintage bottle, for a gold star. As a bonus, this can be used as an aftershave applicator, attracting lonely, alcoholic, spinsters, or even, perhaps, widowers, depending on your predilections. Plus, Gin Scented Flame Thrower!

Martini, Extra-Wet

3 oz Dry Vermouth
2 Dash Orange Bitters
Gin Loaded Mister

METHOD: Add Dry Vermouth and Orange Bitters to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain drink into glass. Garnish as required.

For extra points, I thought I might tackle applying this technique to the much maligned Vesper Cocktail. Why, not even it’s creator, Ian Fleming, liked the drink. Perhaps with a bit of tweaking, we can fix its problems.

The traditional “Vesper” is typically quoted from “Casino Royale”, as follows, “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one Vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”

Let’s see if we can’t bring this black sheep of a drink back into the fold.

The main problems, are twofold. First, too much Gin. Second, no one can agree on what the recipe means by “Kina Lillet”.

As we have several contenders for the “Kina Lillet” throne, perhaps we can use all three, and their combined might will overcome what one alone cannot.

Reverse Vesper

Evening Prayer, a.k.a. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along

1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or
1/2 oz Oude Genever*

Gin Loaded Mister (see above)
Orange Zest

METHOD: Combine Cocchi, Lillet, Kina l’Avion, and Genever in a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain cocktail into glass and zest orange over glass.

A little intense, but not bad. You’ve got the fruity, light flavor of the Lillet, the bitter intensity of the Kina l’Avion, and the Orange, Cinnamon Gentian of the Cocchi. Not bad, for a first try. I think this whole thing might work out, after all.

*I just never have any Vodka in the house. I refuse spend money on flavorless spirits, and whenever I get some for free I end up using it in an infusion. Genever is tastier, anyway.

The Savoy Hotel and the Dry Martini Cocktail

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

The Dorchester and the Manhattan

Count Peter

Our cars returned us to the Savoy Hotel, where under the watchful gaze of Count Peter of Savoy, we are escorted to a room near the back of the hotel.

Dry Martini Setup

Huh, seems to be a portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, behind all that Gin. And a statue of him in the corner giving the famous V for Victory hand sign. Wonder what that is about? Lots of famous people and politicians at the Savoy, I suppose.

Maximilian Warner from Plymouth starts, thanking us for coming, what a momentous and meaningful experience it has been for him, highlight of his career. He also explains that this long time in coming party to celebrate the legacy of Plymouth Gin and Harry Craddock, was a going away party for him of sorts, he will be leaving the Plymouth company for parts unknown. He then hands the “Mic” over to Erik Lorincz, to say some words, and make the final cocktail of the day, The Dry Martini. Erik says something cute like, “My hands are shaking too much in this esteemed company, I’d like to invite someone up to help me make this cocktail. Someone whose work has done a lot to popularize both the Savoy Cocktail Book and Harry Craddock’s legacy, Erik Ellestad.” Gulp.

Two Eriks at Savoy

(Photo by Jared Brown

OK, now my hands are shaking far more than Erik Lorincz’! A few questions as we make the cocktail, about the Savoy Cocktail Book Project. I manage to stammer out a couple semi coherent answers, didn’t know I’d be doing any public speaking, and somehow we both, shaking hands and all, manage to get the final cocktail, The Dry Martini, into the cocktail shaker time capsule for posterity.

Pouring Plymouth for Martinis

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Public speaking over, and lo, there was much rejoicing, Martinis, and Gin and Tonics.

How Many Savoy Head Bartenders to Pour a Martini

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Just how many Savoy Head Bartenders does it take to make a Martini?

Speaking of Head Bartenders, last year Angus Winchester blew through town promoting Tanqueray Gin, and brought with him a copy of the Savoy Cocktail Book he’d had Erik Lorincz and Peter Dorelli sign. I’d brought it along this day, and surreptitiously had the other Savoy Bartenders sign my copy.

Angus Savoy Cocktail Book

Unfortunately, Joe Gilmore’s illness made it impossible for me to get his signature.

Savoy Head Bartender Signatures

Or did it…

Savoy Cocktail Book

As part of the gift pack, they gave us a new edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book, with an introduction from Erik Lorincz and modern cocktails from the Savoy Bar, but they also had all of the living Savoy Head Bartenders Sign the copies, including Joe Gilmore.

Yes, I suppose I am a Savoy Nerd to get excited about this. Is that a bad thing?

Gift Bags

(Photo by Jared Brown)

I suppose I should mention, at this point, that one of the features of the tour, was the launch of the new Plymouth bottle in England. I can say without reservations that the people at Plymouth, Beefeater, and apparently, Chivas, along with their parent company Pernod Ricard, have been great supporters of the Savoy Project. I’ve met a lot of good people who work for them, and especially thank Trevor Easter for helping out get me across the pond for this day of celebration.

Gift Box

And the mysterious blue box which accompanied our gift bag, was also very cool.

5 Cocktails

Included a card with the 5 cocktails we had enjoyed during the course of the day and some wrapped items.

Contents

A goblet style glass, a small decorative cocktail shaker, and a bottle of Plymouth Gin in the new bottle.

Glass, Shaker, Gin

“Here’s to Harry Craddock ‘Bartender Legend’, Friday 25 January, 2013.”

To Harry

Finally, I will add a sixth cocktail to the 5, the Corpse Reviver (No 4)…

Corpse Reviver No 2

Corpse Reviver (No 4)

3/4 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or (I’ve been curious how the Kina from Tempus Fugit would work in a Corpse Reviver variation, and I had some in the house. Pretty tasty. I was afraid it would totally dominate, but it behaves itself here and works kind of nicely with the Cointreau.)
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash Absinthe

Shake and strain into a celebratory goblet.

…and raise a glass to Harry Craddock, the Savoy Hotel, and Plymouth Gin.

Cheers!